Friday, November 30, 2007

End of Bootcamp

It was the last day this morning. I haven't kept up with the blogging, simply because, if you've been reading my blog previously, I gave an account of what happened every single day, and, well, having done that, it doesn't make for a great blog on a continuous basis.

So I've done the 2 weeks, and T'ai's indicator for success were those nasty pushups, and I have to say that I disappointed myself. Having done 26 at the end of the last bootcamp, and having done only 16 only 2 Mondays ago, I actually did ONLY 22. Better than 16, but a bit off from 26. Shoddy, I know. I can't make excuses but if I could convince myself, I actually am coming down with something (judging from all the sneezing and watering eyes yesterday---and I hardly ever sneeze!) and that my upper arms are really sore. I did call it this morning, that I didn't think I'd do too well at the pushup challenge. I'll just have to keep on doing some pushups everyday.

So where do I go from here? Well, I've finally gotten my gym pass at work, and if I can get to work at 5:15am and work out for an hour each morning, maybe I'll achieve a level of fitness to rival that at bootcamp. I can only hope. I have good intentions, anyways. I just have to take baby steps, that all. I watched yesterday's Oprah episode, and folks who have been losing hundreds (literally!) of pounds each, so surely that can inspire me to slim down another 6 or so.

Yup, I weighed myself this morning, even after the tall nonfat vanilla latte that T'ai treated us to this morning, and I weighed in at 126lbs. Since the beginning of Oct, I've lost (according to my own digital scale at home), about 12 lbs in under 2 months. Throw in a week-long cruise vacation, and I guess that's pretty good. I actually don't care if I lose any more weight, as long as I tone up a bit more. I can still see some room for improvement, around the middle, and, well, my butt could use still a bit more of a lift. I'm not there yet, maybe I won't ever be, but I'm started to feel more comfortable with my body looking almost like it used to 4 years ago.

And with body, comes the mind and spirit. Going to acupuncture and massage therapy once a week has seemed to relax me a bit, and I'm starting to take care of the whole package. After attending a Stress Management hour session at work this week, I really do need to continue not compromising myself too much. I need to attend to my needs too, even though I want to please everyone. Again, it's a work in progress. Hopefully I'm doing a good enough job along the way.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Eating on Day 1

Having gone through one whole day of this plan, I find I'm constantly thinking of when to have my next meal. I mean, it takes me 15-30 minutes to totally consume one meal (at work, chatting, reading, working simultaneously) that I really need that meal in 2.5 hours! It's wierd.

Maybe it's because that salad I had today was really only half of what was suggested. I substituted a metabolically equivalent portion of yams instead of that salad. You would too if you saw the size of this salad. I don't MIND salad, but I do mind eating a whole acre of grass. I bought one of those salad packs at Superstore, the one that comes in a bag. Not the really big one but one that should last a few nights, if you were having small salads. Well, T'ai's plan for that meal was for the whole bag, according my weigh scale. Yuck! If I tossed in some French dressing (my favourite!) then maybe I'll eat it all, but just balsalmic vinegar (no olive oil)...ewww. Hence, the yams.

So tomorrow's prep wasn't bad. I just cooked up some green beans and some corn. Everything else I had already cooked up the last night.

Just having my hot-water herbs before I call it a night. Good thing....I didn't want to get distracted by a snack!

Yet Another Boot Camp...With a Twist!

This next two weeks of boot camp is going to be challenging for me. Not only do I need to attend another 10 days of grueling (but fun!) exercise each morning but I have to restrict myself to a very particular meal plan. I guess it's a "diet", per se, but I think, socially, that word has been given a poor rap. Last night I had to prepare today's 5 meals, and then some, and there's so much to eat! I think people at my work will think I'm crazy, eating all the time!

Today's menu:

7:00 am - bowl of slow-cooked oatmeal, protein drink, Udo's oil
10:00 am - egg white omelette, 1-1/2 red bell pepper, hefty handful of peas, Udo's oil
1:00 pm - tuna, 1-2 slices of bread (healthy kind), totally obscene amount of salad, Udo's oil
4:00 pm - 1/4 zucchini, 1/2 c. rice, 1/2 chicken breast, Udo's oil
7:00 pm - protein drink, bit of broccoli, some acorn sqush, Udo's oil

You see the trend with the Udo's oil, huh? At high levels of intake, Essential fatty acids help increase the metabolism and facilitate weight loss. It's a fat that's not used for energy, but rather for rebuilding at the cellular level (hormonal, structurally and electrical -- ie. our brain and CNS -- functions). Two teaspoons at each meal. Gotta love it!

Preparation for the all those foods is crazy! I was cooking up a storm, prepping and storing, and cooking some more. You should see my fridge! I should take a photo one day and post it. I had to go buy more storage containers!

Hopefully I'll only have to prepare really big like this at the beginning of the week, then do little things over the course of the week. I couldn't do that each night!

And preparing ahead for my meals will ensure my success. Eating is no problem....but it's when you don't have the right kinds of foods in front of you that cause you to lose focus and binge-eat. I just have to convince myself I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.

I met my fellow bootcampers this morning, about 18 of us, 4 were absolutely new. Some were returning. We did laps around the gym, and did some "army maneouvres" like knee lifts through ladders, "tires" (ie hula hoops) and hurdles. Running with weights and doing walking lunges back and forth. I met Jacqueline, who's on her 4th bootcamp but her last one was 2 years ago. We did our pushup challenge and I only did 16, and not like the 26 at the last challenge. Oh well. Let's hope I improve.

Here goes Day 1...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Herbs & That Spirulina!

I tried the spirulina when I arrived home from my acupuncture appointment yesterday. I have not heard of this thing before, and now I know why the word isn't circulated freely amongst the population: most would prefer to have never met it before.

Spirulina is blue-green algae that is energizing and full of essential vitamins, minerals with apparently many health benefits including boosting the immune system and even fighting cancer. One serving (1 tsp) has the anti-oxidant value of 3-4 servings of vegetables.

That said, when you open the powder for the first time, all you see is a fine, really green powder. REALLY GREEN. Mossy green. Think a dark peat moss, ground up. Lovely! What have I agreed to?

Melissa said it's best to drink it mixed in a strong tasting juice like pomegranate or cranberry and not in water. Ok. That already goes against T'ai's recommendation to avoid juices. But since I don't actually start the nutrition plan until tomorrow, I'll take the juice.....this must tastes ghastly in only water!

So I pour myself a glass of strawberry/kiwi juice (the only juice I had on hand) and put one teaspoon of the stuff in and quickly mixed. What was a pinkish red colour quickly turned to green slime. Seriously, green slime. Moldy, green slime. And clumpy, much like when you try and mix up hot chocolate powder and it doesn't quite dissolve as well as you like. Yeah, but this sure ain't chocolate!

Can it taste just as bad as it looks? Worse!

Who can drink this? Everything I've learned about food, how it tastes, how it looks, doesn't come into play here! Danny came back into the house after being outside for a bit, and I quickly had to hide the stuff, for fear I'd have to explain myself to him as to why I'm drinking what resembles raw sewage.

I finished the glass, in rather large gulps, all while trying to disengage my tastebuds, and without hurling. I looked back at the empty glass, smudged up with green swamp water. If the herbs are the ones I was forewarned about the digustingness, then I'm really up a creek without a paddle. A green, slimy creek!

I tried the herbs later in the evening and it's actually not that bad. I taste a bit of ginger, which I'm not fond of, but it's not overpowering. I could do that. I can't do the greens. I'll have to keep it in the fridge with the hopes there isn't an expiry date this century. Maybe someone will find it and posthumously esteem me to be an actual health guru. You'd really have to be one if you took that crap.

I'll try again tomorrow.

Acupuncture and Me

So I went to the acupuncturist yesterday afternoon for my first official visit. Melissa was going to keep it simple today, probably since it was my first time and all. We discussed a little about how I was feeling since I last saw her, and I told her it's been a pretty easy week for me. We discussed some of the nutritional guidelines she suggested in a PDF she sent me earlier, like switching to a more natural sweetener like stevia, the herbal tea she's prescribing, and the spirulina stuff.

She gave me some samples of the stevia, which I haven't tried yet. It's commercially available in pharmacies as "pure" or with "filler" so you can use it somewhat similarly to regular sugar. This stuff is super sweet, apparently. One single serving packet with "filler" (inulin fiber, if you're curious) is equivalent to 2 tsp of sugar. You can get the liquid stevia in a purer form and actually need only 2-3 drops to sweeten your coffee! It has 0 calories, no impact on glycemic index and is sooo much better for you than sugar and way better than those artificial sweeteners like aspartame found in Equal or NutriSweet (which has been linked to it).

To give you an idea of how sweet it is I found a recipe online for 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies and it requires only 1/2 teaspoon of stevia powder!

I'm considering switching over eventually....when I can handle all the other changes in my diet well enough. :)

I didn't have to disrobe for the session: I just rolled up my pants to my knee. Melissa started with my left leg, asked me take a deep breath in and when I breathed out, she popped the needle in. Having had taken blood tests, donated blood and even taken a flu shot just the other day, it was actually a joke that people are actually scared of acupuncture! There's no pain, just a tiny prick, not even like that of a blood lancet where it's quick but quite sharp.

She asked me if there was anything I left, like numbing, tingling, warming, anything but not pain. Hmph, I felt nothing. I was hoping it was because I'm not in tune with my body yet and not that I was really a skeptic. She dropped another needle in the soft tissue between my index finger and thumb on my left hand...still nothing. But once she did the same for the right hand, I started to feel a warming crawling up my arm. It wasn't strong, but it was surely there. She says that's good, and that she could still that my body was already responding to before that moment.

I think she put 3 or 4 in each leg and one on each hand. Then she moved to the head of the bed. Um, where was going to put it? On my face?

She found a spot on my scalp but, funny, I didn't feel a thing.

She left me alone in the room for 10 minutes, to dream about things, relax. Take myself somewhere, she said. I listened to calming Orient music in the background, as the heater she placed by my feet warmed be up....

I was thinking about something, when she walked in again. Was that 10 minutes?

She wiggled the needles a bit and then left me alone for another 10-15 minutes.

I swear she walked in after 5....though I couldn't figure out what I was thinking about when she interrupted me!

I must have been at the verge of falling asleep, because I'm sure I was thinking about something. Melissa routinely finds people asleep when she returns, some fallng asleep as the first needle goes in. I'd hate to be found snoring!

At reception, I paid for my treatment, my herbs, and the bottle of spirulina, and left relaxed and calm. Little did I know that it would backfire later that night.

I was driving to a friend's house with my two-year old son in the back and it was just raining down like I haven't seen in a while. With him screaming at me to change the CD in the deck to me concentrating on the road, I just lost and and was screaming at the top of my lungs, not really at him, but to the world in general, I guess. I screamed so loud and verociously that I screwed up my throat. I pumped the music really loud to drown out everything, my son, even my own thoughts. Everything today, the calmness, the zen, the relaxation, right out the friggen window.

Where's Melissa now?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Customized Nutrition Plan

I went to see T'ai on Wednesday and we sat down and selected foods I like to eat and he would customize a 7-day nutrition plan for me to follow until I reach my goal.

He suggested I write down what my goal(s) are exactly, so that I could visualize it better and succeed, so here they are:

1. To fit back into my size 4 pants.
2. To have more energy.
3. To reduce body fat to 20% (I think I was 18% 10 years ago)

He would normally have taken 5 days or so to customize the plan for me, but he really wanted to give it to me by the weekend so that I could review it, go grocery shopping, and start on Monday, the first day of the next bootcamp.

Yup, another bootcamp!

At the time, I hadn't registered yet, and I still wasn't sure if I was going to. It was only a 2-week camp, which cuts the camp price in half, and it was going to be held indoors, which could be a good or bad thing. I was getting used to running in a larger expanse of area instead of running in circles in the gym, like a little mouse, and the cool air was rather refreshing after a few minutes exposed instead of the stiffling indoor air (plus it's rather bright, which really wakes you up, unfortunately).

I swung by his office Thursday evening and picked up the completed plan. I have to weigh everything first until I get used to eyeballing the amounts. I've got a select choice of proteins, starches, and fibrous carbs to eat from, and he's compiled the meals for me for all I have to do is follow the items and measure the amounts. I included bread and pasta in my plan, as I probably can't get away with avoiding them altogether. I do have a non-flour Squirrelly type of bread I bought that I stuck in the freezer. And I can also cook pasta for the family, and eat some of it too. I am not to cook with any oils, and apparently they're toxic and cancer-causing (I haven't checked the claims, but I hate frying things anyway). I will continue to use 2 tsp of Udo's Oil as my fat at each meal and having a protein shake in the morning and in the evening. My steel-cut oats I've been having each morning

I'll be eating salmon, cod, pork, sirloin, extra lean ground beef, chicken breasts, corn, peas, green beans, broccoli, red peppers, brussel sprouts (yes, I like them!), asparagus, zucchini, snow peas, mixed greens, white rice, bread, pasta....and maybe some others I can think of right now. It's a good selection, and he's mixed it up for me during the 7 days. Remember: I have to eat 5 times a day! 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, and go to bed no later than 10. I would follow the plan until I reach my goal, and then continue eating similarly with other foods until then. I do get one day break, Extra Variety Day, where I can eat something I consider a treat and not feel guilty about it. So, if I plan on attending a party or something, then I can prepare for that by strictly following my nutrition plan in the days leading up to the event. So I can have my cake and eat it too!

But the only way this plan will work is if I prepare my meals ahead of time. I need to prepare and portion out my meals so they're ready to go and I won't have to think about it much. Just grab and go. Each meal is about 1300-1400 calories.

So, I signed up for the 2-week mini boot camp on Friday. I had to: I don't have a plan of attack in regards to my workout, since I have my application for the gym at work is still on hold. That one day of working out at the gym on the cruise ship led me to believe that I forgot what to do with all those Apex machines and free weights. I'll have to do some more research and muster myself a plan, so until then, I figured I had to sign up for the next camp. This nutrition plan won't work as well if I'm not exercising at the same time. And with 5x/week, I'll really see results. In fact, T'ai is expecting a change in my physique even after 2 weeks of boot camp. Hmm, we'll see. But given I'd been loosely following his recommendations during the last camp, and I got great results, we'll see what we get with actually being strict.

T-2 days....and counting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Back to Reality: where do I go from here?

The Caribbean vacation was so much fun, I'm finding it hard to believe that I have to come back to Vancouver and re-experience the mundane I have always without palm trees, tank tops, flip flops, and buffets.

Eating was a challenge on the ship, but I didn't go too overboard (pardon the pun!). I hesitated to weigh myself after the trip but did anyway, at Danny's urging. He, apparently, lost 2 pounds, whereas I have gained 3. I attribute this not to gaining fat, but losing some muscle, as I was only able to hit the gym once at the beginning of the trip. I did some pushups this morning to gauge my upper body stregth....only 17. I think I could've done more, but I didn't press it (another punny!)

I returned from the trip on Sunday evening, and with the Remembrance Day stat. holiday Monday, I also had yesterday and today off from work. Back to the grind tomorrow.

You may notice that my title for this blog has changed. I originally started this blog as a Boot Camp journal. Now that I've finished boot camp, I find that I am actually on a journey to better health and wellness, and it doesn't stop at Day 20 of boot camp. I have realized that my physical health is one of utmost importance, for we only have one body, and we must take care of what was given to us. But most importantly is the balance between physical and mental health. I've come to realize that my emotional well-being is one that needs the most help, and like yin and yang, it was tied in with my physical health. I'm the first to tell you that I eat when I'm bored; I don't eat to be full. I also eat to serve my self-pitying phase I go through each day. It's my guilty pleasure for all the guilty things I did or plan to do. My sin, if you will. So in addressing my physical, I address my emotional. This is where my Boot Camp blog ends and my Journal of Life blog begins.

So, I will continue to express my worries, my complaints, my victories, my successes and my failures, in all I do. I invite you to sit and listen for a while, if possible. Many of you have enjoyed reading my little boot camp escapades, and it's given me much joy in sharing a bit of my life. I like to think that I may have been a writer in a former life, and blogging seems to give some purpose to this current existence.

You may come to the conclusion that I'm actually nuts, after listening to me for a while, or worse, STILL think I'm nuttier than you already thought. So be it. I'm all about being honest to one person only.....and that's me. And isn't that what it all boils down to?

I'll keep the image of those blue jeans above as the emblem to my blog. It'll serve as a reminder for the Start Line of this marathon I've started.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 20 & Post-Camp Evaluation

The last day!!!

I was nervous when I woke up, thinking of all the things I hoped to accomplish. I was nervous about finding out whether I'd actually be able to beat my 1-Mile track time and whether I'd actually do more than 4 pushups during my Strength Test. I was nervous about getting nervous.

When I woke up, I was glad that it wasn't raining. We were going outside to the track whether it was or not. I had gotten up earlier than I had on other days, about 4:35. I got sidetracked writing an email to that acpuncturist about gettting that free consultation, since FREE was while I was attending bootcamp, and, well, when I came home afterwards, I would technically no longer be part of bootcamp anymore. I shot off the email and realized that it was already 5:15!!! I jumped out of my seat and into the car before I knew it.

So, I made that last "tick" beside my name for attendance. 20 ticks in a row. Some didn't have as many ticks.

We lightly stretched and went down to the track to run a couple of times around for warm up.

Then the endurance begins.

Four times around the track. I called out to Tai each time I lapped: 2:29, 5:04, 7:39....I ear-to-pocket-ed the last 1/8th mile around that track, catching up to Pia, who I was closely chasing for most of the run, except for the last bit when she got a little farther than I'd liked. I almost caught up to her, by 1 second.....9:59. I crossed the finish line in under 10 minutes! I'd have been happy with 10:13, which would have improved my last run by 1 whole minute but I managed to still make it under 10! The euphoria was amazing!! From 11:13 down to 9:59.

We walked back to our mats on the other side of the school and I partnered up with Cathy, who I've been wanting to meet all camp. [Very funny lady, probably in her 40s]. Pushup time. Her best at the beginning of camp was 15....I encouraged her and she did 19. I managed to push out 26 pushups! Compared to 4, Victoria said I should win best improved! Everyone was laughing because there was such a difference! I've done pushups before but never that well. Sorry about the self-praising, but I was so happy!

We did out stretches and concluded the bootcamp, with some of us meeting at Starbucks, on Tai (how sweet!). I may have rethought adding the vanilla I usually have with my latte, but I think I deserved a little sweetness right now!

We all talked about camp, and what we did for a living, just plain chatting about anything, since we never have a real chance to chat during camp. Pia and her friend are going to do the springtime camp, in Mar or April. A few are doing the mini-camp starting the Nov 19. I haven't decided yet. Cathy is doing the Jan 28 camp. I'd like to do both: November because I'll be on the cruise, and in January, because of the Holiday Eating.

Right afterwards at 8am, I went to see Tai at the office to get my post-camp evaluation. I was excited to see what kind of results I got, since I can tell how my clothes are fitting.

Get this: I lost 12% body fat! I was 38% and now I'm 26%! I am now 130lbs from 135. I was 83.2 lbs of lean and now I'm 95 lbs lean! I gained 10lbs of muscle but lost 5 lbs overall. My metabolism has increased drastically. I can consume over 2100 without gaining weight, whereas before it was 1800. Tai said he was impressed with the results, though I thought he should've hit the roof! This was amazing!

So, I was thinking then and there if I should take the next camp. It's limited to only 30 and it fills up fast. I asked him about the meal planning and what he does for me. He said that it would be a 1.5 hr session, assessing the foods I eat and picking out the foods I like. It would cost $300. Suzanne told me at Starbucks she did the meal planning with Tai in the summer and it really worked, she just didn't stick with it this time, but would during the mini-camp in a couple of weeks. I him to sign me up! I figured, rather than spend $175 on a 2 week camp, I would put it towards the meal planning with Tai and see if I can actually push myself to workout on my own....I can't be taking bootcamp forever!!! Though it would be nice, it's not financially feasible.

So, this is my paradise. It's actually not Friday anymore, but Sunday, and I'm sitting here at 10:30 am at an almost empty internet cafe in San Juan, Puerto Rico, relishing my coffee and the crazy crazy weather outside. It's probably 28 degrees right now, at least....highest humidity ever too. I have to check out of the hotel room (scummy place....tell more another time) and head to the cruise ship terminal by 11am. I packed clothes that I couldn't fit in a couple years. I even tried on a dress I wore 7 years ago to Hawaii and I have it with me because it fit. I cried when I told Danny on Friday how well I did at my evaluation. I can't let this feeling go. It's the most amazing feeling in the world, to accomplish something like this. I so highly recommend this to anyone even remotely thinking about losing weight. It's not even about losing weight, so much as feeling good about yourself and feeling the difference and also seeing it in the mirror. And I did it not by starving myself, like I've done on so many occasions. I'm in paradise right now, and I never plan to leave.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Boot Camp: Day 19

Almost the last day!

We brought our stability ball today and did a bunch of exercises for triceps and our abs. We didn't break a sweat; it was so cold. Well, more windy, so there was wind chill anyways. I was sure it was going to rain on us today, but when I pulled into the parking lot and finally had a chance to look at the sky, away from all the street lamps, I could see hundreds of stars above coming into focus, and only whispy clouds blowing eastward. I literally shivered; the night/morning really was serene and beautiful when it's early like this.

We didn't warm up with a run, which is why I was cold most of the time. We warmed up using the ball, lifting it in the air and squating, and warmed up enough that I thought I should remove my fleece. One exercise with a partner was to hold the ball and trace Figure 8's in the air with the ball while the other person would tap/pound the ball in random spots, to throw the other off, in turn working out the arms and the abs. We did several shoulder and upper back exercises too. The ones we did at the wall I found very useful. If you stand with the ball on the wall, holding it with your palm only and move the ball up and down and side to side, with the shoulder kinda popped out of the socket, it helps the rotator cuff in the shoulder. Another one, hard to explain it, but if you lean your right shoulder/arm against the ball, which is up on the wall (you're facing left), and you move your bent right arm forward, without losing pressure on the ball, you feel something real strange in the shoulder too. They weren't difficult exercises but you do them long enough and the muscles start to burn.

There was one advanced move that he only shows to one-on-one clients, and it's when you're belly down, ball under your ankles and with hand weights, you do a pushup, then do a row with one arm, then a row with the other arm, all while keeping your balance on your ball.

Only one more day left, and it's a big day. Tomorrow, we run our 1-Mile again, 4 laps around the track, rain or shine. I think it would be a disadvantage, and a shame, if it were to rain. I really would like to get my Timex fixed today, so that I push myself a little harder to make sure I beat my 11:13 time I had at the beginning of camp. I hope I do well with my strength test and improve my dismal pushup count. Remember I did only 4 at the beginning of camp? I have been occasionally dropping down and doing pushups at the oddest moments, and manage to do 11-14 with not much convincing to do more. So, hopefully tomorrow, when I have to really motivate myself, I'll manage to do more than 14.

I hope it goes well, and I'm not too disappointed in myself. In any case, it's been all a learning experience, right?